Halos play without Izturis on Saturday
Jammed thumb sustained Friday night sidelines shortstop
NEW YORK -- Maicer Izturis jammed his left thumb diving for a ball in Friday night's game against the Yankees and was scratched from the lineup on Saturday, with Erick Aybar replacing him at shortstop for the streaking Angels.
Izturis was examined during the game and X-rays were normal. There was some swelling, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia said his shortstop would be day-to-day, available on Sunday, most likely for pinch-running duties.
"It'll be just a few days, I think," Izturis said. "I'll keep ice on it and it should be OK. It doesn't feel too bad, just a little sore. I don't feel anything broken, nothing like that."
Izturis expects to see a doctor when the Angels return home on Monday.
Robinson Cano hit a shot off the pitching hand of Ervin Santana, the ball caroming to Izturis' left. He slowed the ball's progress with a dive, recovered, pivoted and threw out Cano from his knees.
The immediate concern was not with Izturis, but with Santana. Fortunate that the ball hit him on the meaty part of his outer palm, the right-hander was not injured, Scioscia said. Santana held the Yankees scoreless through eight innings and got the win when the Angels scored in the ninth on Torii Hunter's RBI single against Mariano Rivera.
"It got a good piece of him," Scioscia said of Cano's bullet off Santana's hand. "That could have been bad, any time you get a line drive, particularly pitching. We were a little concerned, but he felt good enough to continue and feels fine today."
As consistently good as Izturis has been, there has been little, if any, drop-off when the acrobatic Aybar moves in at shortstop. The Angels are 33-15 in Izturis' starts at shortstop, 35-25 when Aybar gets the nod. They won their only game started by Brandon Wood at the position.
Izturis and Aybar have been perhaps the most overlooked angle in the remarkable story of the 2008 Angels. With Orlando Cabrera's shipment to the White Sox for starter Jon Garland, the onus was on the two backups to handle one of the most important positions on the field.
Both have excelled, offensively and defensively, turning GM Tony Reagins' first big move into a stroke of genius. Garland, with his durability and consistency, has made complete the rotation in the absence of Kelvim Escobar, out for the season with labrum surgery.
Early-season struggles and simple bad luck with the bat did nothing to disrupt Izturis' focus in the field. He has been dependable while occasionally making the spectacular play.
Aybar, the more spectacular of the duo, has made close to a dozen highlight-reel plays when his name has been called to play shortstop.
"We're good friends, and we help each other," Izturis said. "We both want to do whatever we can to help the team win. That's what matters."
The same attitude exists with the catchers, Jeff Mathis and Mike Napoli, who probably couldn't be any closer if they were brothers. Napoli is expected to rejoin the club late next week, having played five innings on Friday night for Class A Rancho Cucamonga without any problems surfacing with his right shoulder. He went on the disabled list on July 6 with labrum irritation.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.